“Oh.” I am an idiot. The panic dissolves and I smile, letting it grow from a grin to something that makes Oliver laugh. “I think it’s all pretty awesome.”
“I only got the tiniest glimpse of you before it all started,” he says. “Razor was released not long after Vegas, and it was a whirlwind from the get-go. You didn’t seem to really believe it was going to happen at first. I’d love to get a peek at Lola from before even that. Before it sold.”
“She was a college kid,” I remind him. “Stressing about finals and rent money.”
He nods, and moves his attention to my mouth. Without embarrassment; he does it intentionally. “I sometimes forget you’re so young.”
I’m not sure why, but I love that he’s said this. It feels kinky, in a quiet way, like he’s corrupting me a little. “I don’t feel very young.”
He exhales slowly through his nose. “You had to grow up early.”
“You did, too, didn’t you?” I know so little about his life before college. He never speaks of siblings, of parents. He’s mentioned grandparents once or twice, but it’s not in our nature to push. At least that’s how it’s been until now. I want to crush that pattern with a brick.
Oliver looks back up to my eyes but we both turn to the bartender when he slides our drinks in front of us.
“Want me to open a tab?” he asks us.
“Yeah, sure,” Oliver says, pulling out his wallet and handing him a card.
The bartender turns and realization smacks me. “What? Wait.” I reach behind me for my purse. “Wait. I should be paying for this! You’re doing me a favor coming up here.”
“Lola,” he says, stilling me and shaking his head to the bartender to indicate he is still paying. “Stop. It doesn’t matter who pays.”
“It does, but thank you.”
I hang my purse back on my chair, smiling guiltily. “Is it weird to forget that I can afford to pay for drinks now?”
“I don’t think so.” He runs his finger over the rim of the glass. “God, I remember how long it took me to get out of the starving-student mentality. My father died five years ago, left me this sum of money.” Long fingers curl around his tumbler, and he lifts it to his mouth, sips his drink. I want to taste the scotch from his lips. “It was this huge shock. I hadn’t seen him since I was seven. I lived with my grandparents. I figured Dad was off doing heroin most of my childhood.”
I blink, jerked out of my Oliver Lust Haze. “What?”
He nods. “So when his lawyer contacted me, telling me my father was dead—but good news! He’d left me money—I was furious. He’d got his life together enough to earn money, to save money, but he hadn’t bothered to come back for me.”
I feel the pressure of tears in my head, the heating, tightening of it in my throat when I look up at his pained expression. “I didn’t know that.”
“Well, anyway.” He hands me my drink, gently clinks my glass with his. “To finding your people,” he says.
I nod, drinking when he does, but even the sharp burn of whiskey doesn’t really register. His dad left him, too. Even his mom. I feel like we’re two wires, wound around and around and around together, propagating current.
I look up at him, try to smile. “Yeah?”
I nearly choke on my pulse. “What?”
Oliver laughs. “Dance with me. Come on, live a little.”
He holds out his hand and after what he’s just told me, what else can I say, but “Okay”?
We put our drinks down and slide from our stools, walking over to the empty floor. There are three other people here, not including the bartender, and they don’t give a single shit what we’re doing or why we’re standing in the middle of the empty floor staring at each other.
“There’s not really any music,” I tell him.
But then music comes on, too loudly at first and we both flinch. The bartender has put on the sound system, and after he adjusts the volume, Aerosmith drifts down over the dance floor.
Oliver grins in playful apology. “This will have to do.”
“It’s almost so bad it’s good again,” I tell him and hold my breath when I feel the slide of his hand around my waist, feel every single one of his fingers against my spine. His other hand comes just beneath it, to the spot low on my back that suddenly becomes the convergence point for all of my nerve endings. Oliver pulls me in, flush against him. I can feel the waistband of his pants against my stomach, can feel how my breasts press against his solar plexus.
My hands are curled around his biceps and I’m staring up at his face. The dark of his brows, the light of his eyes, the shadow of a beard at his jaw . . . somehow it comes together to make my favorite face in the world. Oliver’s lips come apart just the smallest bit when he looks down at me and I see his jaw flex, feel his fingers press more firmly into my back. This is tension. This, right now, is lust, and I’ve never wanted anything more than I want his kiss. It’s nearly painful, the wanting. Something inside me is rebelling, stabbing itself with need, telling me it won’t let up until it gets what it wants. I’m being held hostage by my own heart.